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4 April 1985
Geoffrey HillEssays on his Work 
edited by Peter Robinson.
Open University, 259 pp., £18, March 1985, 0 335 10588 2
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... GeoffreyHill’s second collection of poems, King Log, was published in 1968, that year of student radicalism and disappointment. Hill’s title is reactionary in its implications and derives from Aesop’s fable of the frogs who desired a king. In my edition of L’Estrange’s royalist version of Aesop the fable runs like this ...

Shaggy Fellows

David Norbrook

9 July 1987
A History of Modern Poetry: Modernism and After 
by David Perkins.
Harvard, 694 pp., £19.95, April 1987, 0 674 39946 3
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Collected Poems 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Penguin, 207 pp., £3.95, September 1985, 0 14 008383 9
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The Poetry of Geoffrey​ Hill 
by Henry Hart.
Southern Illinois, 305 pp., $24.95, January 1986, 0 8093 1236 0
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... In the gloom, gold gathers the light against it.’ In choosing this line from Pound’s 11th Canto as one of the epigraphs to his Collected Poems, GeoffreyHill concentrates our attention on one of the central problems posed by Pound’s poetry and explored by his own. Beauty is no absolute guarantee of truth or morality; art may illuminate or corrupt. As ...

Jokes

Donald Davie

11 June 1992
In the Circumstances: About Poems and Poets 
by Peter Robinson.
Oxford, 260 pp., £35, May 1992, 0 19 811248 3
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... It seems now that there was always something odd about Peter Robinson’s being the editor, in 1985, of GeoffreyHill: Essays on His Work, from the Open University Press. Robinson’s sensibility, particularly as one had encountered it in his poems, pointed away from the aloofness of Hill’s attitude to his public ...

Ruling Imbecilities

Andrew Roberts

7 November 1991
The Enemy’s Country: Words, Contexture and Other Circumstances of Language 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Oxford, 153 pp., £19.95, August 1991, 0 19 811216 5
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... On 11 November 1990 GeoffreyHill published a Remembrance Day poem entitled ‘Carnival’, in the Sunday Correspondent. The occasion, and the appearance in a national newspaper, suggested the sort of work that a poet laureate might ...
3 November 1983
The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Péguy 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Agenda and Deutsch, 31 pp., £3, April 1983, 0 233 97549 7
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... In the issue of Agenda for Spring 1983 there is an essay by GeoffreyHill which will obviously become required reading for anyone who is seriously interested in his poetry. ‘Our word is our bond’ is in many ways an apologia for Hill’s view of poetry and, more ...

Too Many Alibis

James Wood: Geoffrey Hill

1 July 1999
Canaan 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Penguin, 76 pp., £7.99, September 1996, 0 14 058786 1
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The Truth of Love: A Poem 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Penguin, 82 pp., £8.99, January 1997, 0 14 058910 4
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... GeoffreyHill the poet is often washing his hands. Sensuous but deeply penitential, his poetry visits waves of scruple upon itself. No contemporary poet has a more contrite ear for the confessions, and the ...

Awkward Bow

Jeremy Noel-Tod: Geoffrey Hill

6 March 2003
The Orchards of Syon 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Penguin, 72 pp., £9.99, September 2002, 0 14 100991 8
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... The first poem of For the Unfallen (1958), GeoffreyHill’s first book, was entitled ‘Genesis’. It declared: By blood we live, the hot, the cold, To ravage and redeem the world: There is no bloodless myth will hold. Hot blood is at the heart of Hill ...
20 September 1984
The Force of Poetry 
by Christopher Ricks.
Oxford, 447 pp., £19.50, September 1984, 0 19 811722 1
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... rather than the poet whose name appears in the title. The poets are Gower, Marvell, Milton, Johnson, Wordsworth and Beddoes, together with a handful of 20th-century poets from A.E. Housman to GeoffreyHill. In Wordsworth we are to attend particularly to line-endings and to prepositions, in Marvell to ‘a particular figure of speech’, in Gower to ‘diction and formulae’. The sophistication of ...

Outcanoevre

Aingeal Clare: Alice Oswald

23 March 2006
Woods etc 
by Alice Oswald.
Faber, 56 pp., £12.99, May 2005, 0 571 21852 0
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... Combining thoughtfulness with pace, scientific precision with journalistic verve, Dart threads through these various voices. The result is similar in spirit to Basil Bunting’s Briggflatts or GeoffreyHill’s Mercian Hymns, a scrupulous tilling and scouring of the poet’s homeland. Despite her marked territoriality, there is an aura of communion in Oswald’s work (communion with God, nature ...

Rancorous Old Sod

Colin Burrow: Homage to Geoffrey Hill

20 February 2014
Broken Hierarchies: Poems 1952-2012 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Oxford, 973 pp., £35, November 2013, 978 0 19 960589 7
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... Not everyone​ likes GeoffreyHill. There have been tedious arguments about his ‘difficulty’, about whether that difficulty has become hermetic obscurity in his later work, about his politics, and about whether the large quantity ...

Best Things

Alan Hollinghurst

20 August 1981
Viewpoints: Poets in Conversation with John Haffenden 
Faber, 189 pp., £7.50, June 1981, 0 571 11689 2Show More
A Free Translation 
by Craig Raine.
Salamander, 29 pp., £4.50, June 1981, 0 907540 02 3
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A German Requiem 
by James Fenton.
Salamander, 9 pp., £1.50, January 1981, 0 907540 00 7
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Caviare at the Funeral 
by Louis Simpson.
Oxford, 89 pp., £4.50, April 1981, 0 19 211943 5
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... whole areas of his artistic personality. These performances will be influential on future criticism written about their subjects/performers, but the influences will often be far from straightforward. GeoffreyHill and Thom Gunn impress by their quiet responsiveness, their unembarrassed exploration of their own complexities – but equally they are given by Haffenden the benefit of long interviews and of ...

Fallen Language

Donald Davie

21 June 1984
The Lords of Limit: Essays on Literature and Ideas 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Deutsch, 203 pp., £12.95, May 1984, 0 233 97581 0
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... language back into inexperience, to a point where rhyming ‘tomb’ with ‘womb’ may once again seem to be innocent, a thunderclap of unheralded revelation. These reflections are prompted by GeoffreyHill’s formidably erudite and compacted essay, ‘Our Word is Our Bond’, which reappears now in The Lords of Limit, a volume which, it must be said, in everything from format to price does very ...

Public Works

David Norbrook

5 June 1986
The Faber Book of Political Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 481 pp., £17.50, May 1986, 0 571 13947 7
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... permeated English literary criticism and education like a syrupy drug ... ’ Yes, this is Tom Paulin speaking. Readers of the London Review will remember the review of a collection of essays on GeoffreyHill in which he bitterly attacked the conservatism of English poetry and criticism. Indignant correspondents retorted that Paulin’s literary judgment had been contaminated by political bias and ...

Cute, My Arse

Seamus Perry: Geoffrey Hill

12 September 2019
The Book of Baruch by the Gnostic Justin 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Oxford, 148 pp., £20, April, 978 0 19 882952 2
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... You​ would be hard pressed to describe GeoffreyHill’s final work. To say it is a sort of notebook cast as a prose poem in 271 sections of greatly varying length doesn’t get you very far. In one way it is squarely in the tradition of Pope’s ...

Fit and Few

Donald Davie

3 May 1984
The Making of the Reader: Language and Subjectivity in Modern American, English and Irish Poetry 
by David Trotter.
Macmillan, 272 pp., £20, March 1984, 0 333 30632 5
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... not the expected names? No, thank heaven); and in Chapter 11, where three English poets who normally trade in pathos are applauded for at one point departing into anti-pathos – Ted Hughes in Crow, GeoffreyHill in Mercian Hymns and J.H. Prynne in Brass. The reader appealed to, or ‘made’, by these books is defined only by tautology: he is the reader who prefers comedy, or ‘ferocious banter’, to ...

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